Jennifer Warawa, Sage VP of Partner Programs and Channel Sales, and Sage Relay for Life Team Captain, contributed this article to BusinessNewsDaily's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
Sage is a large company, with 13 locations and more than 4,000 employees in North America. As you can imagine, we work as a company on many charitable programs that give back to our communities. In fact, these initiatives roll up into a ‘Sage Cares’ program that also encompasses our commitments to sustainability and to helping build entrepreneurship and small business acumen.
At the Sage campus in Lawrenceville, GA., we wanted to also do something on a local level, with an organization that was important to the employees here. In 2012, we began fundraising for the American Cancer Society’s local Relay for Life event, with eight employees on our team. I knew we could do better in 2013, so we organized for success, and have had the largest team growth rate in our county, up from 8 in 2012, to 64 in 2013.
Fundraising for charity not only benefits the chosen charity, but it can benefit your business, as well. Participation in fundraising activities in the workplace leads to increased employee engagement and promotes cross-functional activity — two things that any business can benefit from. Below are some strategies that can help your business support a great cause, and ultimately, build a better internal community.
Organize fundraising events based on employee interests
In our case, it’s food that wins the hearts of our employees, but do a little research to find what motivates your employees. Maybe it is gourmet coffee drinks, extra time off or casual Monday; do what will pique interest. Employees will buy-in to the program and the more employees you have invested, the better the fundraising will go.
Variety is the spice of life
While you should build fundraising activities around what you know a large number of employees like, do offer a variety of fundraising activities. You want to appeal to the majority of your contributors and you don’t want people to get tired of the same thing. The more interesting activities you host, the more engaged employees will be.
Help your employees while they help you
Host fundraising events that will also help your employees, and I don’t just mean by giving them the warm fuzzies for helping out. I mean do something that will also make their lives easier. For instance, we hosted a silent auction for Christmas decorations that employees no longer needed. Employees were able to clean out some of their clutter AND we made money for Relay for Life. It’s a win-win for all involved; appreciative employees are loyal employees.
Form a Fundraising Committee
You will need reinforcements in order to successfully fundraise. Get a group of passionate employees together to help come up with fundraising ideas, to execute on them and help encourage other employees to participate. Our team members really pump up the other employees to help out. Most likely, there will be people from all different parts of the business on a committee and that’s a great thing! These cross-functional interactions help employee relations and will encourage better, integrated work interactions.
Support a cause that is near and dear to employees’ hearts
We chose The American Cancer Society not only because it is a good cause but because we knew several of our employees had been directly affected by cancer. Supporting a cause that means so much to our employees has impacted how much money we have been able to raise and how involved employees have been.
Encourage more community involvement
When you find an organization you are passionate about, you want others to get involved, too. Reach out to other businesses on your street or in your building and spread the word. Having your company name and employees out in the community in such a positive way will build your community presence and reputation. This could eventually lead to additional sales; being top of mind can’t be a bad thing!
I have found that being creative, committed and passionate, while doing the proper planning, has become infectious in the office, ultimately leading to fundraising success. This has helped our employees to feel more engaged and loyal to us, and has helped our community involvement, which in turn builds our presence locally.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher.